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5 Steps to Be a More Strategic Operations Leader

by Adam Cuzzort

I love speaking with sales and revenue operations leaders. Inevitably at some point in our conversation between Salesforce configuration, forecasting, sales metrics and KPIs, we get into a discussion around “time sucks.” You know, those things that you know aren’t highly productive, but are tedious and time consuming.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 things that I’ve noticed in talking with successful operations leaders on how they maximize their time to not only be more productive, but be more strategic for their organization.

1) Get off the dashboard hamster wheel.

Dashboards are great tools to gain visibility into sales performance, but they can easily become a never-ending cycle of upkeep, fixing broken reports, changes in KPIs, etc. It leaves many ops folks I talk to rubbing their forehead and expressing “there has to be a better way.”

To add insult to injury here, many of the sales leaders they’re building these dashboards for only use a part of them, or worse ?, they don’t use them much at all. All too often those dashboards are only used to prep for an exec meeting, a forecasting session, etc. and leveraged infrequently.

2) Use data to discover how to make your biggest impact.

Knowing what fires to fight is half the battle. At any point in time in any sales organization there are myriad different areas of potential improvement. How do you know which ones to focus on? Get geeky. Take a holistic view of your organization, using metrics like a win vs loss model that shows things like activity level, cycle time and progression rates by stage to find bottlenecks or sub-optimal areas of your sales process. Use historical views on lead source performance to win rate, cycle time and deal flow to determine how changes upstream or to your own sourcing methods have impacted success in various sources. Study forecast variance over time to determine if your teams are getting better or worse at forecasting.

By taking a step back and evaluating the business as a whole, you can more directly impact the strategic outcomes by seeing where inefficiencies, bottlenecks and wasted effort are occurring.

3) Level up from automation to empowerment.

The last decade has seen a huge proliferation of automation tools to help reps be more productive, decrease monotonous tasks like updating CRM activity and help address data hygiene issues. Many of the ops leaders I speak to are leveraging some form of rep automation tooling.

What’s the next step? How do we elevate from automation to empowerment? And ideally, not just for the individual sellers, but also for their managers (who let’s face it, are ultimately accountable for their success).

We need to give sales managers and their reps the visibility into the issues that are impacting their business when they happen. If pipeline is slipping toward the end of the sales period, if deals forecasted for the end of the month have significant risk signals associated with them, if reps are forecasting deals that are outside the typical pacing, amounts, products, etc., these are all leading signals to a manager that conversations need to happen and action may be needed.

Give your sales managers the power to inspect the things that are vital to their success. And ideally, deliver those things to them proactively to save them even more time.

4) Encourage the rep behavior you want by showing them.

You’ve probably heard it said before, “who you are is how you coach.” Many of the best sales managers I’ve spoken with employ data in their coaching sessions. A conversation about a strength or weakness that a seller may have is much more impact when that individual can see what baseline looks like across their team, or can see how they’re being measured and where the target should be based off of success and failure data.

At Loupe, we believe that evidence-based coaching of this nature helps rep see clearly the why behind many of the asks their managers have. When a sales rep can see their own personal win and loss model, juxtaposed with that of their entire team, they can see where they might need help and also where they are strong and could probably evangelize.

As an operations leader, you can be more a more strategic partner to your sales managers by providing them a way to inspect what they expect from their sellers. Managers need easy access to rep performance data, cross-referenced to the performance of their team as a whole and to the entire organization. This data should be up-to-date, easy to access and self-service, because managers often don’t have time, don’t know what to ask for or don’t remember to request it in advance.

5) Use the windshield, not the rearview mirror.

This is arguably the most important way to be strategic as an operations leader. It’s often easy to get stuck in an analysis loop on actuals and historical data to try to analyze what is working and what needs fixed. This is enticing because we often find surprising things when we pour through historicals.

The problem is that sometimes while combing through the data, we actually miss the bigger picture. The best time to de-risk opportunities and ensure a team hits their number is right when the issues occur.

In order to do this, operations teams need systems that proactively monitor for pipeline risk, deal anomalies, even custom events or changes that are specific to their business. They need these notifications delivered directly to the salespeople and managers involved, in real time.

Do you have any of these or additional strategic goals in 2020 that could benefit from a better lens on your sales organization’s performance? Loupe helps sales managers, operations leaders and sales executives manage their teams and individuals, be proactively notified when important things happen, monitor changes in pipeline, forecast more intelligently and have better coaching conversations through data. Check us out at canopy.io.

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